Exploration Cos. Doing Fine Despite Secular Bear


In final week’s missive entitled “The Bear Resumes,” I laid out a reasonably robust case for sustaining a defensive portfolio posture regardless of the main averages (in addition to many junior miners) being of their respective 12-month highs. Throughout the ensuing week, I fielded no fewer than fifty messages all chastising me for being such a pessimist and urging me to rethink as a consequence of my outdated and actually prehistoric evaluation of those “fashionable markets.” In these messages, whereas not precisely spelled out, the counterpoint argument appeared to comply with the logic practice of a phrase well-known to sexagenarian buyers— “…nevertheless it’s totally different this time”—referencing technological advances and visionary fiscal and financial coverage maneuvers because the panacea for each enterprise cycle and market ache.

“A secular bear market can final wherever from 10 to twenty years and is characterised by below-average returns on a sustained foundation.”

Nicely, as if Mr. Market had been studying these messages, he responded by taking the retail-dominated NASDAQ out behind the woodshed and summarily thrashed it to inside an inch of its life whereas creating havoc in lots of the inflation and economically-sensitive sectors together with cyclicals and the valuable metals. I cite the NASDAQ as a result of it has develop into the poster little one for unfathomable (and quick) risk-free enrichment, a minimum of within the minds and desires of the brand new generations of buyers and speculators that now journey herd on Wall Road. The overwhelming majority of the “meme” shares reside inside the hallowed halls of the NASDAQ change and it’s their noticeable absence from any current CNBC subjects of debate that stands out.

The “NAZ” went out for the week at a year-to-date lack of 21.16% loss and is now formally and undisputedly in a bear market. What one does not see is the underlying harm within the bulk of small-cap points the place drawdowns of as much as 70% should not unusual.

The definition of a bear market is any market that loses in extra of 20% over any given timeframe nevertheless it needs to be famous that there are two utterly totally different breeds of the bear: there may be the cyclical bear that final normally for months and is a part of “regular market volatility” after which there may be the dreaded secular bear the place it may possibly final for many years and is characterised by sharp, violent reflex rallies adopted by plodding, persistent declines.

As I’ve been writing about since final fall, buyers loved the fruits of a Fed-orchestrated secular bull market popping out of the Nice Monetary Disaster Bailout of 2008 whereas gold buyers have been struggling a dissimilar destiny after gold topped at $1,920 in 2011. Being a market deemed integral to “most full employment” (one among two Fed mandates), shares had been handed numerous lifelines over the last secular bull whereas gold has been compelled to claw and grind its option to the present cyclical bull standing minus something vaguely resembling central financial institution help.

I imagine that gold and, to a lesser extent, silver are in long-term secular bull markets since 2002 inside which there have been various cyclical bears sluffed off as “corrections” by the PM permabulls group. Whether or not one makes use of the time period “bear” or “correction,” gold and silver have been maddeningly irritating markets by which to take a position as a consequence of their incapability to reply appropriately to unprecedented and egregious portions of credit score creation often known as “stimulus.”

In truth, I discover it quite revealing that all the Fed coverage strikes (trillion-dollar purchases of Wall Road member bank-owned securities) didn’t end in something resembling “hovering CPI” however as soon as the federal government’s fiscal stimulus got here into play with cheques bypassing the member banks and going immediately into the pockets of shoppers, solely then did financial velocity obtain ventricular fibrillation leading to escalating client costs.

It’s actually wonderful how undemocratic the banks may be when doling out Fed cash and the reason being easy: The Fed was created by the banks, for the banks, and their solely true mandate is to guard the member banks they usually did so by hoarding the gargantuan Fed stimulus solely to be allotted to these, as George Carlin famously stated, “that belong within the Membership” (and also you and I ain’t in it.).

Rants however, I imagine that there’s quickly to seem a tradable entry level for the cyclicals and treasured metals equities which were mauled as collateral harm inflicted by the general broad market rout. Scrambles for liquidity have compelled gross sales of essentially sound, low-P/E firms like Newmont Mining and Agnico Eagle in addition to zinc-centric Teck Assets, firms that dwell soundly within the class of the deeply-discounted for all of the incorrect causes.

Additionally falling into disrepute are the juniors, each treasured and base metals, whose recognition has gone from the penthouse to the outhouse with the current rise in actual rates of interest. There may be nothing “totally different this time” within the weak point within the juniors; if Teck can get smoked for a ten% drawdown regardless of near-record all-time highs within the worth of zinc, then there may be little motive to realistically count on the junior wannabe’s to outperform. That stated, exploration firms like MAX Useful resource Corp. (MAX:TSX.V; MXROF:OTCBB) (up 132% YTD) have been doing simply advantageous.

The explanation for that is present in my experiences of the 1990’s when the commodity markets had been mired in a disinflationary malaise. Since valuation couldn’t elicit any assist from rising commodity costs, the one occasions that drove them had been new discoveries and with that as a stark actuality, the ingenious Canadian mining business launched into an unprecedented decade lengthy binge (1987-1997) of 1 world-class discovery after one other throughout a broad spectrum that included diamonds, gold, nickel, and silver.

In a decade of meandering steel costs and low inflation, untold wealth was created via innovation and calculated risk-taking, each of which stay the area of the junior explorers. As quickly as the present market malaise settles down, I feel that the brand new technology of inventory speculators goes to get up to a painful actuality that “story shares” are simply that—“tales”—with little within the method of substance or dependability upon which to get well the big losses inflicted by their deadly attraction to the NASDAQ.

My largest holding and top-ranked junior is one which I proceed to imagine suits all the standards so essential in at this time’s monetary panorama. Juniors must have the next key options as a way to rise above the throng of TSXV and CSE juniors all furiously waving their palms for recognition and extra importantly, funding. They want:

  • A useful resource or proof of 1 whereas residing within the stage of “superior exploration”
  • Favorable jurisdiction
  • Means to boost capital
  • Means to safe permits
  • Administration experience and expertise
  • Market sponsorship, and most significantly,
  • An exit technique

My largest holding is Getchell Gold Corp. (GTCH:CSE; GGLDF:OTCQB) and with out going into quite a lot of element (electronic mail me at [email protected] if you’d like a “nice deal of element”), they get 5-star scores in all classes however this 12 months. Not like current exploration seasons, they’re embarking on a maiden drill program at Star Level in Nevada to see what lurks beneath the previous prospector dumps the place the fabric the old-timers left behind ran 1%-plus copper and north of a gram of gold. Geophysical evaluation, together with IP surveys, have revealed various very massive resistivity-low targets which can be going to be drilled inside days.

When mixed with the Fondaway Canyon useful resource (minimal 1 million ounces of high-grade gold), Getchell offers me a two-pronged assault on each base and treasured metals publicity in an ideal location (Nevada) with a $4 million treasury and a historical past of with the ability to elevate cash and create shareholder worth.

In case you do a scroll-down on the Twitter web site specializing in FinTwit commentary, the quantity of bearish commentary tells me that we’re quick approaching the purpose of “most pessimism” which can also be the purpose the place threat dissipates and reward potential resurfaces. You see, the bear that has arrived just isn’t a “child” bear and it’s not a “mama” bear; this one is a “grandaddy,” a mammoth “Kodiak” bear. The sort of bear market is one the place the bear started feeding on canapes in late 2021 after which sat down for the principle appetizers in January. Now, he has gorged himself on shrimp cocktail and caviar and is about to arrange for the principle course, the entrée, the piece de resistance which can most likely arrive with a vengeance however solely after he can lure extra unsuspecting dip-buyers into the market.

Solely after a rally just like the 11% rebound we had after the March 14th retest of the February lows can the bear be lured again from his den. The subsequent few buying and selling periods will probably end in a large capitulation-type reversal that might be tradable however the one sector that’s ripe for a rebound is the PM sector. With the FOMC conferences arising on Tuesday-Wednesday, the arrival of charge hikes has traditionally marked the lows for gold and silver as they start their ascents in anticipation of a Fed policy-reversal. I might be allocating money to my favourite juniors subsequent week however be forewarned: if it follows the sample of different tradable bottoms, you can be completely petrified with worry as you watch shares go “No-Bid,” so I would like you to struggle the waves of nausea and incontinence and be able to take away your hedges and cargo the proverbial gun with this smorgasbord of worth.

It is a countertrend buying and selling alternative within the midst of a secular bear market of Kodiak measurement and ferocity requiring agility, nerve, and ample dollops of four-leaf clovers and rabbits’ toes.

Forewarned is forearmed…


Initially skilled throughout the inflationary Seventies, Michael Ballanger is a graduate of Saint Louis College the place he earned a Bachelor of Science in finance and a Bachelor of Artwork in advertising earlier than finishing post-graduate work on the Wharton College of Finance. With greater than 30 years of expertise as a junior mining and exploration specialist, in addition to a strong background in company finance, Ballanger’s adherence to the idea of “Onerous Belongings” permits him to focus the follow on deciding on alternatives within the world useful resource sector with emphasis on the valuable metals exploration and growth sector. Ballanger takes nice pleasure in visiting mineral properties across the globe within the endless hunt for early-stage alternatives.


This letter makes no assure or guarantee on the accuracy or completeness of the information supplied. Nothing contained herein is meant or shall be deemed to be funding recommendation, implied or in any other case. This letter represents my views and replicates trades that I’m making however nothing greater than that. All the time seek the advice of your registered advisor to help you along with your investments. I settle for no legal responsibility for any loss arising from using the information contained on this letter. Choices and junior mining shares comprise a excessive stage of threat that will outcome within the lack of half or all invested capital and due to this fact are appropriate for knowledgeable {and professional} buyers and merchants solely. One needs to be aware of the dangers concerned in junior mining and choices buying and selling and we advocate consulting a monetary adviser for those who really feel you don’t perceive the dangers concerned.

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